Passengers embarking on cruises are often not adequately prepared for the health problems and injury accidents that may arise. There are many factors that can contribute to an injury on a cruise ship. For instance, large numbers of people, exposure to many different types of food, and inexperience with being on a water vessel are some factors in cruise ship injuries. Injuries which may occur during a cruise include, but are not limited to:
- Slip and fall accidents;
- Food-related illnesses;
- Problems resulting from shipboard emergencies, such as fires;
- Drowning and other water-related accidents;
- Sexual assaults by crew members and by other passengers;
- Malpractice by the ship's doctor; and
- Legionnaires' disease, which is a form of pneumonia spread by problematic ventilation and infected water.
In some cases, many passengers on a cruise ship can be injured at around the same time due to the same source. For instance, if there is an issue with the food on the ship, there is the possibility for many passengers to be affected by that health issue.
Can I Sue The Cruise Line For My Injuries?
Because you entered into a contract with the cruise line, you may be bound to certain conditions which are listed on your ticket or supporting documentation. Some of the issues that may have been addressed in the contract which will determine if you are able to sue include:
- Whether there are specifically stated limits (such as time or jurisdiction) on your right to sue;
- Whether there are any disclaimers; and
- Whether you are required to alert the cruise line of your plan to sue.
In most cases, cruise ship lawsuits are based on a negligence legal theory. This involves proof that the cruise line owed a duty of care to their passengers, that the duty of care was somehow broken, and that the breach of the duty was the direct cause of the person’s injuries. The damages must also be measurable and subject to calculation.
For example, cruise ships have a duty to provide passengers with food that is safe to eat. If the cruise line somehow breaches this duty by providing contaminated food, and that action directly causes measurable injuries to passengers, they might be held liable for damages under negligence laws.
When Can I Sue The Cruise Line?
If you are injured on a cruise line you have a limited amount of time in which you are permitted to sue the company. Each state has laws, called Statutes of Limitation, which determine how long you have to make a claim. If you are unsure of whether you are still within the time frame allotted by your state, a local lawyer can provide you information on this and many other topics. Thus, if you have recently been injured, you may want to consult a lawyer immediately, so as not to miss the filing deadline.
Where Can I Sue The Cruise Line?
Federal regulations, such as Federal General Maritime Law, generally apply to cruise line lawsuits. However, many cruise lines mandate that you follow certain rules when purchasing a ticket. For example, a cruise company may specify that all disputes be settled in a stated geographical location (such as Florida), despite where you live or where you bought your ticket. This discrepancy often deters injured passengers from filing claims against the cruise line.
What are the Remedies in a Cruise Line Lawsuit?
Cruise line lawsuits can involve various types of injuries, and may require legal action to help provide compensation for the person’s injuries. If the cruise line is determined to be negligent or otherwise liable, the court will typically issue a damages award in favor of the injured party. In most cases, the damages may cover losses like medical bills, lost wages, a loss of the ability to earn income, pain and suffering, emotional distress (in some cases), and other losses.
In some instances, a person’s ability to recover damages might be affected by their own actions. For instance, if the cruise ship passenger’s own negligence contributed to their own injury, their damages award may be limited, or they may even be prevented from collecting damages altogether. An example of this is where a passenger knowingly enters an area on the ship that is marked off with a sign that says, “Do Not Enter- Risk of Falling”. If they see the sign and understand the dangers involved, yet continue to enter that area, they may have their damages limited under legal defense theories such as assumption of risk. Other defenses may apply, depending on the facts involved in the case, as well as the nature of the injury.
Do I Need A Personal Injury Lawyer?
Reviewing your cruise ticket and meeting with a lawyer as soon as possible (so that time pressure becomes less of a concern) can help you to determine whether you have a valid claim. A personal injury lawyer can also discuss with you your options for recovery and the most appropriate course of action.